VARIOUS ARTISTS, VARIOUS / OST
SELF DISCOVERY FOR SOCIAL SURVIVAL / VARIOUS
Since the genre’s birth in the early 1950s, the surf film has involved a synthesis of image and
music. Typically these two key ingredients are sourced separately, mixed together only after
the visual fact. Self Discovery for Social Survival subverts this recipe. Just like the osmotic
waves that run through the film, the visuals and music of SDSS coexist and permeate as one
to reinvent and reimagine what surf films can look, sound, and feel like.
SDSS works as a triptych - In Mexico, Los Angeles psych ensemble Allah Las, join surf
historians and professional surfers from the US and Australia in sipping tequila, hanging ten
across winding waves, and stumbling upon a super-secret surf break (the location of which
they will never reveal). Allah-Las then return to their home studio to set off to record with
their analog equipment, this time ripping on the sound waves. The five songs by Allah Las on
the soundtrack, entirely instrumental and all aligned by different variations of fruit jams, lay
the foundation of classic surf aesthetic: tingling guitars, sporadic yet attentive percussion,
and rolling bass lines.
In the second vignette, remotely held in the southern atolls of the Maldives Islands, Los
Angeles electronic pop dub duo Peaking Lights (Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis) carve their
mark on the waves with a group of progressive young Australian surfers. While the gentle
yet upbeat electronic echoes of Peaking Lights, reminiscent of Broadcast or Arthur Russell,
bounce across the screen, breathtaking aerial views of wipeouts and vast underwater ocean
shots take flight. Leaving bobbing heads tread-ing ocean waters that carry the whitest shade
of blue, Peaking Lights move on land to their home studio to delve into their two
contributions to SDSS, 'Mirror In The Sky' and 'Hold On.'
A near-silent symphony ending in Iceland, kiwi neo-psych musician Connan Mockasin and
MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden encounter slate grey waves, active volcanoes, euphoric hot
springs, massive glaciers, and wild mushrooms. Surrounded in alien landscapes,
dramatically darker in tone and movement than other scenes in the film, SDSS emphasizes a
side to surf that avoids stereotypes. Heading from The Northern Lights to the north of
Brooklyn, Mockasin and VanWyngarden finally settle into Gary’s Electric (Mexican Summer’s
in house studio) exhorting a surrealist, emerald ending to mark a unique display of the neosurf
Mexican Summer stable staples Dungen and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma provide additional music
and sound design to elevate the soundtrack to unknowable stratas.